Americans deepen partnerships and opportunities through international exchange

Americans deepen partnerships and opportunities through international exchange


Americans deepen partnerships and opportunities through international exchange

The U.S. Department of State and IREX are pleased to announce the 71 Americans selected to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Reciprocal Exchange Component.

The Reciprocal Exchange component provides Americans with the opportunity to travel to Africa to build upon strategic partnerships and professional connections developed with young Africa leaders during their Mandela Washington Fellowship in the United States. This Reciprocal Exchange encourages U.S. experts and leaders to work with Fellows they met in the United States to tackle critical issues, such as promoting peace, stability, and economic prosperity in both the United States and Africa, while contributing to U.S. public diplomacy efforts and strengthening mutual understanding. 

This was my first time doing business in an emerging market, and I learned as much about the soft-skills and cultural considerations as I did about the practical and logistical differences.

Lauren McDanell, a 2017 Reciprocal Exchange awardee

Through these competitive awards, 71 U.S. leaders from 23 states and the District of Columbia will travel to 26 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa for up to four weeks throughout 2018. The Reciprocal Exchange will support diverse projects that address a wide array of global and local community challenges in both the United States and Africa.  

Additionally, Reciprocal Exchanges create unique business opportunities for American Awardees, allowing them to test concepts in new markets. “This was my first time doing business in an emerging market, and I learned as much about the soft-skills and cultural considerations as I did about the practical and logistical differences,” says Lauren McDanell, who traveled to Madagascar in June 2018.  Lauren, who is the Phoenix Director of Entrepreneur Initiatives for SEED SPOT said, “My role at SEED SPOT centers on training local community organizers and developing curriculum for entrepreneurs. This [Reciprocal Exchange] project involved training and developing curriculum for a new market, and it was invaluable for me to see how our concepts worked in an emerging market, where they translated well and where they struggled.”

American Awardees selected for the 2018 Reciprocal Exchange grants include the following individuals from across the United States, traveling to destinations across Sub-Saharan Africa: 


Lauren McDanell (Madagascar), business/entrepreneurship

Josh Neuroth (Madagascar), technology/telecommunications

Kristin Romaine (Uganda), women’s and girls’ issues

Dana Newell (Uganda), children and youth


Kurt Kornbluth (Cote D’Ivoire), energy

Gregory Milano (Kenya), disability rights/issues

Timothy Weekes (Madagascar), business/entrepreneurship

Catherine Callahan (Nigeria), disability rights/issues

Nicholas Bowden (Rwanda), energy

Caroline Lehman (South Africa), education


Sarah Dunn Philips (Zambia), business/entrepreneurship

Elizabeth Hallgren (Zambia), education


Chandra Pitts (Ghana), women’s and girls’ issues

District of Columbia

Samia Lalani (Kenya), LGBTQI issues

Duane Rollins (Kenya), business/entrepreneurship

Johanna LeBlanc (Zimbabwe), education


Tiffany Smith (South Africa & Tanzania), business/entrepreneurship


Dustin Mix (Malawi), business/entrepreneurship

David Wilson (Nigeria), engineering

Scott Massey (Togo), agriculture


Robert Mark Wolff Jr. (Ghana), agriculture

Laura Kinnard (Nigeria), business/entrepreneurship

Ebby Luvaga (Nigeria), agriculture


Odanov Eric Martin (Cabo Verde), leadership

Tamara Bauer & Kaitlin Long (Ghana), leadership

Donna McCurry (Uganda), health/public health/medicine


Louisa Nakanuku-Diggs (Botswana), technology/telecommunications

Kathryn Coney (Kenya), agriculture

Lawrence Musa (Nigeria), education


Rebekah Caylor (Angola), civil/human rights

Alfred Forbes (Lesotho), business/entrepreneurship

Stephanie Gottwald (South Africa), education

Wing-Kai To (Uganda), education


LeAnn Snow (Ghana), health/public health/medicine

Okechukwu Ukaga (Nigeria), business/entrepreneurship

Christopher Johnstone (Nigeria), education

Barbara Jean Allen (Zambia), energy


Andrew Zimbroff (Seychelles), business/entrepreneurship


Katherine Sawicki (Tanzania), disability rights/issues

New Jersey

Keith Jones (Cameroon), democracy/governance

Asenath Dande (Kenya), women’s and girls’ issues

Emeka Onugha (Kenya), retail/sales

Ronald Quincy (Swaziland, Tanzania, & Rwanda), women’s and girls’ issues

New York

Electra Weston (Mauritania), women’s and girls’ issues

Nyasa Hickey & Hannah McCrea (Nigeria), justice/legal/prison systems

Eva Roca (Rwanda), women’s and girls’ issues

North Carolina

Jesse Lutabingwa (Nigeria), grant writing


Sydney Franklin (Botswana), health/public health

Khandakar Islam (Ghana), agriculture

Daniel Lacks (Nigeria), engineering

Dorene Miller (Zambia), agriculture


Anthony Cambas (Benin), business/entrepreneurship


Daniel Filler (Ethiopia), justice/legal/prisons

Brynn MacDougall (Kenya), women’s and girls’ issues

Kira Mendez (Kenya), children and youth

Kathleen Newell (Malawi), women’s and girls’ issues

Joseph DeCrosta (Zambia), disability rights/issues


Alberto Altamirano (Chad), business/entrepreneurship

Rick Reeder (Sudan), business/entrepreneurship

Lynn Weir (Uganda), agriculture

Alison Boland & Matthew Koshmrl (Zimbabwe), journalism/media/publishing


Dorie Gilbert (Ghana), women’s and girls’ issues

Neal Piper (South Africa), community development


Julia Thomas (Zimbabwe), journalism/media/publishing


Jenny Faust (South Africa), government: civil service

Gabriel Schlieve (Swaziland), disability rights/issues

Travis Moore (Swaziland), health/public health/medicine

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and local community engagement. From 2014 to 2018, 3,700 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa have participated in the Fellowship. Since its inception, 125 Reciprocal Exchange projects have been awarded jointly to over 250 American professionals and African leaders representing 29 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, and 33 African countries.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit and join the conversation at #YALI2018.